In family or couple therapy, you might think there are more than one client such as two for a couple. However, there is still only one – the relationship. As with individual clients, you try to help them come to an understanding of what’s going on for them, how this came to be a problem, and why it has continued. For family/couple, you do the same, but you help them both see what’s been happening in the relationship, how it came to be and how each of them has been a factor in it, and why it has continued.
Anyone who has a condition that interferes with his or her life and the lives of family members may benefit from family therapy. Usually, the better the family functions, the lower the stress level for the person with the health problem.
Family therapy has been used successfully to treat many different types of families in many different situations, including those in which:
- The parents have conflict within their relationship.
- A child has behavior or school problems.
- Children or teens have problems getting along with each other.
- One family member has a long-term (chronic) mental illness or substance abuse problem such as severe depression, eating disorders or alcohol use problem.
Family therapy can also be useful before problems begin. Some families seek this type of therapy when they anticipate a major change in their lives. For example, a man and woman who both have children from previous marriages may go to family therapy when they marry to help all family members learn how to live together.
Family and couples therapy is often much more flexible. For example, therapist will initially see couples for more than an hour, and by the end of therapy will space sessions out to perhaps one session a month, or one session every few months, as a way to reduce relapse into problems.